Scottish shooters are reeling – but not to music. They have been slapped with two pieces of bad news in the last week. In one, the Scottish Government has brought forward plans to tax shoots. In the other, the Scottish government plans to licence shooters.

Shooters in the UK already face the most draconian gun licensing system in Europe. As a result, there has been no need for a hunting license system in the UK. Now a new report by Scottish Natural Heritage formally recommends one.

The RSPB says it is a welcome punishment for shooters. Duncan Orr-Ewing, Head of Species and Land Management at RSPB Scotland, said: “We welcome the publication of this SNH report which will contribute to current discussions in the Scottish Parliament about potential options for licensing of intensive gamebird management practices in Scotland, such as “driven” grouse shooting. We are clear that the failure by grouse moor owners over decades to self regulate and put a stop to the illegal killing of raptors and the carrying out of other unsustainable land management practices has led us to this point. We support the licensing of “driven” grouse shooting, with clear sanctions to remove such licences on individual landholdings if there is evidence of illegal practice. As the SNH report suggests, such regulation is commonplace in other European countries and those landowners who operate legally and comply with the terms and conditions of the licence should have nothing to fear from such a system.”

Meanwhile, Scottish farmers await rates as the shoot tax is reintroduced. The reintroduction of a tax on Scottish farms and estates with shoots and deer forests is weeks away. Business rates on shoots were abolished in 1995 but will be brought back on 1 April, as part of the Scottish Land Reform Act.

It applies to any piece of land with what the act calls “sporting potential”. Land agents and lawyers expect a bonanza as farmers appeal against the rates, which are yet to be announced.

Scottish shooters’ bad double whammy